The pandemic or the upsurge of Covid-19 has not only brought the entire world to its knees but has also impacted education the world over and changed it forever. It has resulted in the closure of schools the world over and 1.2 billion students (Lal 1) are bereft of classrooms globally according to statistics. In the existing scenario, the efficacy of the earlier system is not only being questioned but novel paradigms are being tested and put to use. There has been a significant rise in e-learning, whereby teaching is done remotely and on digital platforms. Besides the shift in the mode of instruction from classrooms to computers and laptops, the pandemic has posed a challenge to almost all aspects of education. Educators are now re-imagining and re-formatting the tools of evaluation, testing, attendance, human interaction as well as the increasing dependence on technology with regard to virtual teaching and learning (Griffin 2).
The point of debate in academic forums that are looming large and causing serious concern is whether to reopen schools and colleges. It is amply clear that Covid-19 and its variants will continue to pose a threat and students will be vulnerable to its impact, hence the presence of virtual or screen classrooms are here to stay. However, this does not mean that learning through human contact is redundant – rather it is now abundantly clear that the pedagogy needs to be revamped and the practical aspect of technology must be amalgamated with human instructors. Therefore, teachers must have training that incorporates the impactful use of technology in education. In the post-pandemic world, virtual learning provides an affordable learning repository at all times and everywhere wherein the role of the teacher is to impart knowledge through dialogue and interaction in a virtual classroom setting.
Just as there are advocates of this new method of learning who tout the many advantages there are also challenges that pose considerable hurdles on the flip side. A major constraint to online learning is the unreliability of internet connectivity and speed (Lal 1). Another point that is immensely clear is that younger students need a more organized environment devoid of distractions. Hence, it is imperative that learning to be made more fun and effective, as children primarily learn using their senses there should be a shift from rote learning to emphasis on skills such as critical thinking and adaptability. This could then become the catalyst to a more effective method of educating students through e-learning in the future. Another limitation of this digital learning method is the lack of personal interaction /contact between the instructor and the learner.
The pandemic has upended our previous notions about knowledge and brought to the forefront an important lesson –namely that it is vital to disseminate knowledge across societies, communities, and international borders.
There are numerous advantages inherent in this non-linear and cross-cultural approach to education and learning. It enables learning to penetrate to remote locations, thus enhancing literacy and helping the nation to embrace change, and offering a competitive advantage to seekers of knowledge. This new-age learning model which provides more accessible learning anywhere and at any time will serve to pave the way to greater opportunities and fresh vistas that will effectively transform individuals, groups, and most probably even societies.
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